Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya: A visionary leader
“If you admit internal purity of the human soul, you or your religion can never get impure or defiled in any way by touch or association with any man.”
So are the words of this man who lived in age of extreme discrimination, an age where Harijans were considered to be antigens, an age when the very mention of them among the higher caste had come to be considered a bad omen. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, or Mahanama, as he was referred to, was a legendary leader who is most famous for coining the phrase “Satyameva Jayate”. The sheer importance of this phrase extends far beyond the reality show hosted by Aamir Khan. It was a means of telling people, in two simple words, that the British lies would not be tolerated, they would not triumph. Malaviya was a great leader, not just because of his ground-breaking ideals, but because of his proactive nature. Malaviya has studied to be a lawyer, and attained his LLB in 1891. However, he quit law on his 50th birthday, to serve the country henceforth. He returned to following the Chauri-Chaura incident and his arguments helped acquit 155 accused and saved 15 others from the gallows. Even Chief Justice Grimwood Mears bowed thrice to Mahanama as a sign of respect to his brilliant arguments.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of his life is the founding of BHU, or the Banaras Hindu University, which continues to be known as one of the top universities in the country, for most subjects. Visionary that he was, he realized there would be a high need for educational facilities in the future. Even as the whole of India lived in the moment, the moment of fighting the British, Mahanama looked to the future, knowing the need for education in India. In 1916, Mahanama established what is still the largest residential university in Asia. A hundred years have passed and yet his vision has not faded. This is testament to the fact that he is one of the greatest leaders to ever walk the face of the Earth.
Soft yet outspoken, Malaviya never gained the fame that others like Mahatma Gandhi commanded. Yet the work he did cannot be detracted from. The two time Congress president was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 2014, symbolizing his importance to the nation. Mahanama was never one for the spotlight; he was a silent worker. He did anything the country needed, in the apt words of Jim Gordon, “…he would plunge his hands into the filth, so you could keep yours clean.” He did not approve of dirty politics as demonstrated during the Khilafat movement. He was the epitome of what a modern leader should be, he symbolized the very spirit that modern India needs.
He was a multi-faceted, being a fairly accomplished poet and writer, a successful lawyer, handled a brilliant political career and drove the freedom movement. His works were published in Harischandra Chandrika magazine under the pen name Makrand. In 1910 he started the Hindi paper, Maryada.
Malaviya was a major part of protests against the Simon commission. He signed the Poona Pact along with Dr. B.R Ambedkar that brought reserved seats to the “depressed classes” He was an integral figure in the non-cooperation movement and was active in the Buy Indian Movement too. He continued to influence the freedom struggle with his proactive leadership and forward thinking ideals. He walked his talk and believed whatever he said. He stood for no wrong or trickery. At the time, he was an integral part of the freedom struggle.
Many revolutionary’s had ideas that could only be implemented in their time, ideas that would have no place in the modern world. It cannot be said that Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya is one of them. This is a man whose visions and ideals would not be out of place in today’s world. “Truth shall triumph” he said. The truth has truly triumphed. He may not be the most famous of freedom struggle leaders, but one simple truth has reached us. A simple truth about a great man, a brilliant lawyer and a linguistic genius. A truth that we all should infer from his life.
Walk your talk
Satyameva Jayate indeed